October 24, 2021

6 adults, 3 kids left homeless after McGraw fire

Shenandoah Briere/contributing photographer

Fire investigators meet with residents Friday following an early morning fire on Highland Avenue in McGraw. A garage at 5 Highland Ave. caught fire, and it spread to the adjacent homes at 5 and 7 Highland, forcing nine people from their homes.

The American Red Cross has provided six adults and three children vouchers to use on housing, food or clothing — their basic needs — after a fire left two homes in McGraw uninhabitable early Friday.

“We get them through their first few days,” said Dan Hartman, the regional communications manager for the Red Cross of Western and Central New York.

Hartman said a caseworker will contact the families in a few days to help them create a plan to get through the situation.

McGraw firefighters were dispatched at 1:33 a.m. to 5 Highland Ave., McGraw for a report of a garage on fire. By the time crews arrived, the fire had spread to a single-family house at that address and an apartment house next door at 7 Highland Ave., said Scott Roman, Cortland County’s director of emergency response and communications.

Firefighters heard minor explosions, Roman said, possibly from propane tanks in the garage. The garage was completely burned down. No injuries were reported.

Homer, Cinncinatus, Cortland and Cortlandville provided mutual aid. Homer also provided a rehab center to help responders cope with high temperatures.

The fire was under control within an hour, but firefighters remained at the scene until midmorning.

The New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control investigators were on the scene this morning trying to determine the cause, Roman said.

“I’m sure it started in the garage, but we don’t know what started it in the garage,” he said.

Hartman said there will also be mental health volunteers available to talk to any of the families about how to “deal with the emotional trauma of what they are dealing with.”

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City Editor Kevin Conlon contributed to this article.